Report on proposed improvements at Manila
CreatedJune 28, 1905
Commissioned byWilliam Howard Taft
Author(s)Daniel Burnham
Pierce Anderson
SubjectCity planning

The Burnham Plan of Manila is a popular name for Report on proposed improvements at Manila and Manila, P.I., plan of proposed improvements, a 1905 report and map by Daniel Burnham and Pierce Anderson which detail the plan for the city of Manila. It proposed developments based on the characteristics of the city and is patterned after the cities of Naples, Paris, and Venice.[1]

The plan was at the request of then-Philippine Governor-General William Howard Taft, four years before Burnham published the more known Plan of Chicago where the plan also appeared along with plans for Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and San Francisco.

There have been efforts to revive the implementation of the plan throughout the years after not being completely realized because of the establishment of Quezon City in 1939 as the new capital and the effects of the World War II including the merging of Manila with nearby cities forming the city of Greater Manila in 1942 and the Battle of Manila in 1945. The plan is often a subject of discussions in the issue of urban planning in the Philippines.[2][3][4][5]

Background

At the turn of 20th century, the Philippines was acquired by the United States from Spain, along with Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The American colonial government wanted to "modernize" the capital city of their newly acquired territory, and the mountain city of Baguio, which was designated as the summer capital.[6]

William Howard Taft suggested to Philippine Commission member William Cameron Forbes to hire a landscape architect for the task, leading to Forbes initially eyeing Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Olmstead, however, was unavailable and the task was eventually given to Daniel Burnham. Other architects who showed interest and was considered for the job included Charles Follen McKim.[6]

Burnham, along with a designer from his firm, Pierce Anderson[6], arrived in Manila on December 7, 1904, and studied the layout and the environment at the time of the cities of Manila and Baguio for almost a month. The two then went back to the United States where he worked on drawing out the plans for the two cities and completed it by June 1905. It was eventually approved by the U.S. Congress a year later.[7]

Aspects of the plan

The plan focused on five major points:[8]

Development of waterfront, parks, and parkways

The plan suggests utilizing the city's resources, such as the river and ocean bay, for recreation and refreshment to mitigate the intense heat caused by Manila's climate.[9][10]

One key aspect of the proposal is the creation of a continuous parkway along the bay front, extending from the existing Luneta to Cavite, and possibly further north. Private portions of the bay front would be reclaimed for public use. The boulevard would feature roadways, tramways, a bridle path, plants, and sidewalks, providing protection from the elements with strategically planted palms, bamboo, and mango trees which "adds mystery" and enhances the value of the ocean and sky. Additionally, shaded drives along the banks of the Pasig River, extending from the city to Fort McKinley and beyond to the lake, are also considered in the plan.[9][10]

The existing Luneta, covered by the Government group, would be replaced by a new Luneta placed further out in the bay, preserving its unobstructed view of the sea on its westward side while trees would enclose the other three sides to provide sun protection and offer glimpses of the bay through the foliage. The proposal recognizes the importance of parks and open spaces in enhancing the beauty and function of buildings. The proposal includes creating small park spaces throughout the city, such as plazas, circles, esplanades, and parkway boulevards which would provide suitable locations for future important buildings. Meanwhile, nine bigger parks evenly distributed in Manila would offer facilities for outdoor activities and connected by green parkway boulevards.[9][10]

The plan suggests incorporating water elements in Manila's parks, inspired by Rome's use of fountains and water features. These could include decorative fountains, reflecting pools, and small cascades. Water features serve both aesthetic and practical purposes, adding tranquility and beauty to the parks while mitigating heat. The sound and sight of flowing water create a calming atmosphere, and the evaporation of water helps cool the surrounding air, providing relief from high temperatures.[9][10]

Updated street system

The plan aims to modify the old quarter of town while keeping the street arrangement mostly unchanged. It emphasizes starting early to avoid rising costs and utilizes the low real estate values in Manila. The first step involves establishing new street lines and opening some streets immediately, while others may be opened gradually.[11][12]

The plan also addresses the preservation of the old walls surrounding the Intramuros, suggesting that openings be made through the massive projecting bastions for roadways. The existing moat is proposed to be filled and leveled to create sunken panels for green spaces.[11][12]

The outer districts of the city are provided with a street system that avoids north-south or east-west orientation, instead favoring fan-shaped grouping of radiating streets and diagonal arteries for direct communication. The plan also suggests wider avenues with park-like connections and ample shade. The overall goal is to leave the old city streets untouched, improve the setting of the old walls, and create a street system that ensures sunlight, accessibility, and efficient traffic flow. The importance of future needs and the example of Washington, D.C., are highlighted as reasons for the proposed plan's scale and foresight.[11][12]

Location of building sites

The Government or National Group, which includes the Capitol Building and Department Buildings, is located on the present Camp Wallace and adjacent land back of Calle Nozelada. The buildings are arranged in a hollow square formation, opening westward toward the sea. The eastern front of the Capitol faces a semi-circular plaza, which serves as a central hub connecting the street system to all parts of the city, ensuring the Capitol, the symbol of the nation's power and the center of government activities, is easily accessible from all sides.[13][14]

South of the main group is the Courthouse. To the north, along Malecón Drive leading to the Bridge of Spain, are area allocated for semi-public buildings such as libraries, museums, and permanent exposition buildings. Behind these buildings are some of the proposed athletic fields. The road ends in a central circle with three important bridges over the Pasig River. Post Office will be relocated south of its current temporary site, requiring riverfront access for easy mail transportation.[13][14]

A proposed passenger railway station, centrally located in Greater Manila, is connected to the Government center through one of the radiating arteries. The location takes advantage of the bend in the Pasig River, allowing for the development of a terminal property without causing significant disruptions to traffic.[13][14]

The Municipal Group will be around Plaza McKinley, enlarging the plaza by adding the block with the unfinished Spanish building. The group, which includes Ayuntamiento, and the proposed Custom House, Board of Trade, and Commercial Museum, extends to the waterfront where a special pier is proposed as the main water gate of Manila.[13][14]

The Governor-General's residence is suggested to be located in the bay outside the boulevard on new-made land, facing an esplanade that extends through the Malate military reservation. The passage also suggests a series of city clubs south of the Governor-General's residence, a country club south of the city limits, and a hotel near Luneta Park. Santa Mesa Heights is considered suitable for schools or a university, while the high ground north and east of the city is suggested for parks and other semi-public institutions.[13][14]

Development of water transportation

The plan highlights the importance of preserving and developing the estero system, despite their initial unfavorable conditions, as they are valuable for transportation purposes. It suggests widening, dredging, and providing masonry banks for the esteros to enhance their usefulness for freight handling. The development of estero connections is also proposed to reduce the risk of river overflow.[15][16]

The plan also discusses the need for railroad facilities to support a new port. It suggests two options for the railroad approach: one from the north side, which already exists but requires bridging the Pasig River, and another from the south side, which would cut through the city and require elevated tracks. The plan argues that a drawbridge over the Pasig River would be a more feasible option despite potential hindrances to navigation and reduced river frontage value. It further mentions the possibility of an additional harbor north of the river to accommodate the new port, which would require extending the existing channel.[15][16]

Additionally, the it emphasizes the aesthetic and practical benefits of establishing shaded drives and open quays along the riverbanks, as well as the public use of these areas.[15][16]

Summer resorts

Manila needs accessible summer resorts on high ground due to its climate. The plan suggests that locations near Manila, such as the low hills on the east, the mountains of Mariveles, and the hill country around Laguna de Bay, could serve as convenient options for these resorts. This would provide government employees and their families with a change of air without the need for extensive travel or separation.[17][18]

See also

References

  1. ^ Chua, Paolo (May 7, 2020). "This 1905 City Plan Shows What Manila Could've Looked Like". Esquire Philippines. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  2. ^ Mioten, Erika (2023-06-23). "A vital setting in the Philippines' rich history". BusinessWorld Online. Retrieved 2023-06-25.
  3. ^ MACAS, TRISHA (2014-10-16). "Burnham's century-old ideas can still be used to improve Manila – architect". GMA News Online. Retrieved 2023-06-25.
  4. ^ Esguerra, Darryl John (2019-07-16). "Duterte signs law strengthening National Museum of the Philippines". INQUIRER.net. Retrieved 2023-06-25. The National Museum will be mandated to develop the National Museum Complex within and adjacent to Rizal Park and other identified areas with reference to the Burnham Plan for manila of 1905.
  5. ^ "Bill seeking to reconfigure the National Museum awaits Duterte's signature". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2023-06-25. The bill mandates the National Museum to develop the National Museum Complex within and adjacent to Rizal Park and other identified areas with reference to the Burnham Plan for Manila of 1905.
  6. ^ a b c Kirsch, Scott (2017). "Aesthetic Regime Change The Burnham Plans and US Landscape Imperialism in the Philippines". Philippine Studies: Historical & Ethnographic Viewpoints. 65 (3): 315–356 – via JSTOR.
  7. ^ Alcazaren, Paulo. "A CITY BEAUTIFUL". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 2024-01-27.
  8. ^ "Report of the Philippine commission to the secretary of war ... 1900-1915". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2024-01-26.
  9. ^ a b c d Moore, Charles (1968). Daniel H. Burnham; Architect, Planner of Cities. Vol. 2. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 180–184.
  10. ^ a b c d Sixth Annual Report of the Philippines Commission 1905 (Part 1). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Bureau of Insular Affairs, War Dept. 1906. pp. 628–629.
  11. ^ a b c Moore, Charles (1968). Daniel H. Burnham; Architect, Planner of Cities. Vol. 2. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 184–188.
  12. ^ a b c Sixth Annual Report of the Philippines Commission 1905 (Part 1). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Bureau of Insular Affairs, War Dept. 1906. pp. 630–631.
  13. ^ a b c d e Moore, Charles (1968). Daniel H. Burnham; Architect, Planner of Cities. Vol. 2. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 188–192.
  14. ^ a b c d e Sixth Annual Report of the Philippines Commission 1905 (Part 1). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Bureau of Insular Affairs, War Dept. 1906. pp. 631–634.
  15. ^ a b c Moore, Charles (1968). Daniel H. Burnham; Architect, Planner of Cities. Vol. 2. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 192–194.
  16. ^ a b c Sixth Annual Report of the Philippines Commission 1905 (Part 1). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Bureau of Insular Affairs, War Dept. 1906. p. 634.
  17. ^ Moore, Charles (1968). Daniel H. Burnham; Architect, Planner of Cities. Vol. 2. Da Capo Press. p. 194.
  18. ^ Sixth Annual Report of the Philippines Commission 1905 (Part 1). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Bureau of Insular Affairs, War Dept. 1906. p. 635.